Henfield’s Wonderful Railway

As we get through January, I thought I might look at one or two Christmas presents – but this isn’t one of them. This is a sort of buckshee extra. I performed what I might call a trifling kindness for Henfield Museum and the author of a book about the railway through this Sussex village felt I was worthy of a copy of his 2015 published book.

I have to confess, I am absolutely delighted for it is a very good read and as much social as railway history.

image002The railway line concerned ran from Horsham in North Sussex down to the coast at Shoreham from where trains continued to Brighton. You could say this route suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for it might have been constructed as the main line from London to Brighton – it was proposed – but a shorter and more direct route with much heavier engineering needed was chosen instead. Some twenty years later it opened as a country railway. It missed out on electrification in the 1930s but soldiered on as a steam hauled route until the 1960s. Not long before closure, diesel trains were used. Now some of the track is used as a walk and cycleway.

The author has lived in Henfield since childhood and has wonderful memories and has researched well. One of my favourite photos in the book is of an advert remembered on Henfield Station.

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Now how charming is that. The text and photos describe the trains and the sources of revenue the railway had. Mr Colgate paints a vivid picture of life in past times both on the railway and in its environs.

Here we see workmen tipping sand from the Henfield quarry into a goods train waiting in the siding.

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This photo is the property of Henfield Museum. It reminds us just how manual work was in the past and how railways were used for just about everything.

My other selected photo is by Lens of Sutton and shows shunting in progress at Shoreham. But just look at the motive power.

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Yes, genuine horse power was in use. In fact the last British Railways shunting horse was not retired until 1967 but despite being at the top end of my teens by then, I never saw one in use.

It’s a lovely book and I can’t thank E Colgate enough for giving me a copy. You see, I haven’t yet mentioned that the line through Henfield was used by me quite regularly. Sometimes my use was mere train ride pleasure but I did also use it as a means of getting places. The line was known to me and so I really find the history fascinating

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One Response to “Henfield’s Wonderful Railway”

  1. Simon - Brookes Castle Says:

    Reblogged this on Loco Yard and commented:
    An interesting look at the Henfield railway on the Brighton to Horsham line

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